Judge in ex-NFL star's murder case declines to step aside

Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:35pm EDT
 
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By Daniel Lovering

FALL RIVER, Massachusetts (Reuters) - A Massachusetts judge declined to step down from the murder trial of ex-National Football League player Aaron Hernandez on Monday, saying she is not biased against the prosecutor.

Prosecutors had asked that Fall River Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh recuse herself from the case because she had been "antagonistic" toward prosecutor William McCauley in past trials. Prosecutors said they would not appeal Garsh's decision.

"I have examined my emotions and consulted my conscience, and I am satisfied that I harbor no bias," Garsh said. "I do not fear or favor the Commonwealth or the defendant."

McCauley had argued that Garsh had undermined his credibility during past proceedings, including a 2010 murder trial, by speaking to him dismissively, interrupting him and "sending signals (so) the jury would naturally think I was doing something wrong."

The former New England Patriots tight end is charged with the June 17 shooting death of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player, in an industrial area near Hernandez's home in North Attleborough, Massachusetts. The case has attracted intense media interest.

Hernandez, 23, was a star player with a $41 million contract when he was arrested on June 26. The Patriots dropped Hernandez a few hours after his arrest.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, which include one count of murder and several firearms-related offenses. A trial date has not yet been set.

At Monday's hearing, Hernandez sat silently with his attorneys, wearing a dark jacket and a pink tie. The judge permitted his handcuffs to be removed.   Continued...

 
Judge Susan Garsh issues her ruling denying a prosecutor's motion to recuse herself as judge in the murder trial of former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez in Bristol Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, October 21, 2013. REUTERS/Stephan Savoia/ Pool